Monday, November 7, 2011


Helpful Buckeye appreciates all the interesting e-mails after last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats...most of which had to do with the spider pictures that began the issue.  No, Helpful Buckeye did not take care of pet spiders in my hospital and, no, spiders don't need any of the vaccines that are regularly given to dogs and cats.  I'm not afraid of spiders and I always look forward to my sightings of marauding male tarantulas here in northern Arizona in October when I'm out biking.  Now that we've taken care of that, here is the conclusion of the topic of necessary vaccinations.

Here is a reprint of an article written by "The Irreverent Veterinarian"...a source we've heard from in the past.  Hope you enjoy his take on the vaccine question:

What Vaccines do Dogs Really Need?

This is the answer.  It depends upon the age and risk factors of a dog.  I'll tell you what I think and even tell you how I vaccinate my own dogs.

Puppies should receive a full series of vaccines beginning at 6 to 8 weeks of age and repeated every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16 to 20 weeks of age to protect them against all the common diseases.

Unvaccinated adult dogs should also receive two full sets of vaccines spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart.

Adult dogs should received vaccines as required by law (rabies) and other vaccines at least every 3 years.

Vaccine Recommendations


Puppies should receive immunity against some diseases through their mothers milk but this disappears during the first few months of their life. To protect puppies during this critical time, a well-researched approach is taken: A series of vaccines is given every 3 to 4 weeks until the chance of contracting an infectious disease is very low. The typical vaccine is a "combination" that protects against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus (the four viruses are commonly abbreviated DHPP).

Many veterinarians also recommend incorporating leptospirosis in the vaccination series (this combination is abbreviated DHLPP). Rabies vaccines are given between 16 and 26 weeks of age in most states (governed by law).

Dogs between 20 weeks and 2 years of age

It is typical to booster the puppy shots in young adult dogs to ensure adequate lifelong immunity against deadly viral diseases. Your veterinarian will likely "booster" your dog to protect against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus (the four viruses are commonly abbreviated DHPP). Many veterinarians also recommend incorporating leptospirosis in the vaccination series (the 5 components are abbreviated DHLPP).

Many dogs are also immunized against bacterial infections (e.g. bordetella and leptospirosis). The immunization for these diseases typically do not persist for more than a year making yearly (and occasionally more frequent) booster vaccines advisable.

The bordetella protects against "kennel cough" and is often a requirement of boarding facilities. Bordetella is also recommended for dogs that attend dog parks, conformation shows or agility competitions.

There is currently a vaccination available for canine influenza virus. The vaccine is recommended for dogs "at risk". Dogs that frequently interact with other dogs, participate in activities with other dogs or are boarded are considered at risk and can benefit from this vaccination.

The rabies vaccines should be given as recommended by local law.

Newer vaccines effective against specific forms of the bacteria leptospirosis may be important in some areas.

Adult dogs (over 2 years of age)

Annual revaccination (a booster) is recommended for the first year after the "puppy vaccines"; thereafter, you should discuss the benefits and risks of annual vaccination with your vet.

In the past, the DHLP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus) vaccine was typically given each year. These recommendations are changing. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) came out with new guidelines in 2006 that suggests that adult dog vaccines boosters may be adequate if given every 3 years. Specific vaccine requirements for individual dogs should be discussed with your veterinarian.

The most appropriate vaccination program for your pet should be followed, something you should discuss with your veterinarian.

Again, if the risk of kennel cough or canine influenza virus is great, a vaccine against bordetella and canine flu is recommended. Both vaccines need to be given twice initially then each year. You and your veterinarian should assess whether it is required.

The rabies vaccine should be given as recommended by local law.

Newer vaccines effective against specific forms of the bacteria leptospirosis may be important in some areas. The need for the vaccine should be determined based on the area of the country your dog lives in and his or her life-style. If given, they should be administered once to twice a year.

Other vaccinations that are sometimes given by your veterinarian include coronavirus, Lyme and giardia. These are not routinely given to every animal, and their use should be discussed with your veterinarian. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) came out with new guidelines in 2006 that suggests that coronavirus and giardia vaccines are not recommended for dogs at any age. The Borreliosis/Lyme disease vaccine is recommended for dogs that live in an endemic area where risk of exposure to the tick vector is high or dogs that travel to endemic areas.

Another option to determine what vaccines your dog needs is to do vaccine titers.  This involves a blood test measuring the response your pet has produced to a specific vaccination.  Your veterinarian can help you decide if this is necessary.

If your adult dog has an adverse reaction to the vaccine (fever, vomiting, shaking, facial swelling or hives) discuss the risk of annual revaccination with your veterinarian.

Adapted from:

"The Irreverent Veterinarian" brought up the topic of the dog "flu" vaccination in his presentation.  How much do you know about this disease in dogs?  Have any of your dogs ever been diagnosed with this disease?  Has your veterinarian ever discussed this vaccination with you?  Do you think you and your dog can catch the "flu" from each other?  This should answer all those questions and more for you:

Canine Flu Vaccines: Necessary or Not?

As the cold weather begins to blow in, it brings flu season with it. Influenza can affect dogs the same way it hits people - with fever, runny noses, lethargy, aches and pains - leaving your pet bewildered and feeling not so hot.

The question, then, remains: to vaccinate, or not to vaccinate your dogs to protect them from influenza?

It depends, says Kimberly May, DVM, the Director of Professional and Public Affairs at the American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA.

Canine influenza vaccine is classified as a lifestyle vaccine, as opposed to a core vaccine, like rabies, parvovirus and distemper. That means that like Bordetella vaccines, recommended when a pet is boarded in a kennel or at a daycare, canine influenza vaccines may be a good idea if a pet is regularly exposed to strange dogs - whose medical histories you can't always ascertain - in close surroundings, like at the dog park.

The same would then go for dogs that are boarded, May says.

"We're starting to see some boarding facilities strongly encouraging canine influenza vaccines," May said. "We also recommend it for dogs doing dog shows, who are traveling and who are living in certain areas of the country where it is considered to be epidemic."

In 2009 canine influenza was documented in about 30 states, including Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C.

Canine flu isn't all that different from the flu in humans - pet owners can look out for lethargy, their dog or dogs not eating well, a fever, runny eyes and nose, coughing, and other "non-specific" signs of illness, May says.

In the early stages, it could be confused with kennel cough, but the flu will typically last longer.

The flu itself isn't life threatening and requires simply supportive care to help a dog recover as quickly as possible and to feel comfortable while the symptoms still appear.

"You kind of have to let it run its course, but the key is keeping them feeling as good as possible and you want to prevent it from going to a pneumonia stage," May explained.

If the flu develops into pneumonia, the situation can become much more serious and may require IV fluids and other forms of intensive therapy.

"A few dogs have died from it, but a lot of dogs recover and there is not a very high death rate," May explained.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the canine influenza virus was first identified in 2004, when cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs were reported. It was later found that the illness was caused by the H3N8 equine influenza virus, known to exist in horses for more than 40 years.

The CDC estimates that while all dogs can be potentially at risk for the disease, not all dogs that contract the disease will show symptoms and about 80 percent of them will have a mild form of the flu.

Dogs can get tested for the flu at veterinary diagnostic centers and there is no known risk of dogs passing the disease on to humans - only on to other dogs.

Adapted from:

OK, you've done your due diligence as far as learning as much as possible about vaccinating your pets; you've discussed it with your veterinarian; and you finally came up with an approach that seems right for your situation.  Now what?  Once you've had your pets vaccinated, you should observe them for any peculiar response:

What to expect after your pet's vaccination

It is common for pets to experience some or all of the following mild side effects after receiving a vaccine, usually starting within hours of the vaccination. If these side effects last for more than a day or two, or cause your pet significant discomfort, it is important for you to contact your veterinarian:

• Discomfort and local swelling at the vaccination site

• Mild fever
• Decreased appetite and activity

• Sneezing, mild coughing, "runny nose" or other respiratory signs may occur 2-5 days after your pet receives an intranasal vaccine

More serious, but less common side effects, such as allergic reactions, may occur within minutes to hours after vaccination. These reactions can be life-threatening and are medical emergencies. Seek veterinary care immediately if any of these signs develop:

• Persistent vomiting or diarrhea

• Itchy skin that may seem bumpy ("hives")

• Swelling of the muzzle and around the face, neck, or eyes
• Severe coughing or difficulty breathing

• Collapse

A small, firm swelling under the skin may develop at the site of a recent vaccination. It should start to disappear within a couple weeks. If it persists more than three weeks, or seems to be getting larger, you should contact your veterinarian.

Always inform your veterinarian if your pet has had prior reactions to any vaccine or medication. If in doubt, wait for 30-60 minutes following vaccination before taking your pet home.

Adapted from:

That's it for the topic of whether or not vaccinations are really necessary.  Hopefully, our readers will now feel a lot more comfortable with setting up a program of healthy protection for their pets.  Any further questions or comments should be directed to Helpful Buckeye at:

The Baltimore Ravens came to Pittsburgh this evening for a re-match of the opening game of the season, in which the Ravens humiliated the Steelers.  Due to the structure of playoff seedings, the Steelers couldn't afford to have 2 losses to the Ravens.  The Steelers had the lead with only 2 minutes to go, the Ravens had to go 92 yards with only 1 timeout remaining...and that's exactly what they did...scoring the winning touchdown with 8 seconds to go.  A really tough loss to swallow....

This was the second of really great football games this weekend...the first being the #1 LSU at #2 Alabama battle.  Helpful Buckeye says that a team that loses on its home field and with issues in its kicking game (Alabama missed 4 field goals) shouldn't receive much attention in the discussion about who's #1.  Case closed...right now, it's LSU and a couple of pretenders.


Helpful Buckeye broke out another new recipe Friday night for an appreciative audience...Chicken Souvlaki.  This is just a slight variation on the Greek Souvlaki, which normally contains lamb or sometimes beef.  We served it in rolled flatbread...ummm!

Got the chance to shovel our first snow of the season Saturday morning.  It was good exercise.

Training continues for the Tour de Tucson...stamina and muscle strength are still the highlights...whether I'll get back to the proper combination in the next 2 weeks remains to be seen.  However, at least one important thing has been taken care of...made reservations today for dinner the night of the race at our favorite restaurant in Old Tucson.  Hopefully, I'll feel that I've earned the dinner!  Desperado is almost as excited as I am...she, after all, will be my main cheerleader and road groupie.

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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